Homicide details emerge

Craig Cassidy, The Union Democrat /

Calaveras County Sheriff's Office officials are looking for a "person of interest" in connection with a bloody Tuesday assault in West Point that left one man dead and a woman seriously injured.

Gary F. McMahan, who's lived in several Calaveras County communities, is sought for questioning as a witness or possible suspect, said Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Chris Hewitt.

He said McMahan, 31, has two Amador County warrants for his arrest. He didn't know what the warrants were for.

McMahan is described as 6 feet 3 inches tall, 220 pounds, with blue eyes and brown hair - his head possibly shaven.

The identification of McMahan as a person of interest was one of several details that surfaced Wednesday.

The Sheriff's Office formally categorized the crime as a "homicide" and said it remained under investigation.

A similarly guarded Sheriff's Office statement a day earlier said the homicide victim and a woman were found bleeding and unconscious by sheriff's deputies responding to a 911 call about 11:30 a.m. The man was pronounced dead at the scene and the woman, 37, was taken to an area hospital.

"This investigation is fluid and on-going," spokesman Sgt. Chris Hewitt said Wednesday, noting other information was being withheld for investigative purposes.

The Sheriff's Office has not yet released the identities of the victims or 911 caller, nor have they identified a possible motive for the crime.

Family members of the homicide victim Wednesday identified him as Norman Gresham III, 47.

According to Norman Gresham Jr., of Folsom, his son had lived in Calaveras County about nine months and did small jobs for a living.

He was working as a house-sitter and animal keeper at the ranchette where the crimes occurred. Prior to living in West Point, Norman Gresham III lived in Pioneer.

Gresham Jr. didn't know his son's relationship to the wounded woman found in the home, nor did he know what precipitated the violence.

He said he was notified by the Sheriff's Office of his son's death about 8 a.m. Wednesday and understood that he had died of a gunshot wound. Otherwise, he said, detectives have said little.

He said he last talked with his son Sunday and there was no indication he was in any trouble.

Investigators Wednesday afternoon continued working the crime scene -a ranchettecordoned off with crime scene tape.

Neighbors were curious and concerned about the incident, but few knew anything about the victims.

A sign in front of the house identified it has the home of "Norm and Belle" Gresham.

Belle, according to Norman Gresham's acquaintances about West Point, was Gresham's dog.

Judi Byker, owner of KC's Korner, said Gresham was a regular customer and had gotten gas at the service station Monday, in preparation for an odd job on Tuesday.

"He was a good guy. This is just unbelievable," she said, adding that Belle was Gresham's "prized possession."

"Up here we know each other by our animals, and Belle was a sweet girl," she said.

At West Point Trading Post, clerk Dee Rockwell, a 24-year resident, said she knew Gresham as a customer and that he and the other victim were "a couple."

"They used to frequent our local stores," she said, noting a lot of rumors are circulating about the crime and a "sense of insecurity" permeates town.

Hewitt said county residents should always be aware of their safety, but said the crime does not seem to pose an extra threat to area residents.

"There's nothing to suggest we have maniac on the loose."

Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio said an autopsy would be performed Thursday. He declined to comment on the case otherwise.

Union Democrat Photographer Maggie Beck contributed to this report.

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The Union Democrat
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